Sunday, 24 January 2016

Cotswold Water Park and Blakehill afternoon

Today I had a few hours to spare so headed out to the Cotswold Water Park.

The reported Great Northern Diver showed well at my first stop coming very close to the lake edge then diving under and reappearing out in the middle of the lake, great to see one of these inland and so close.

My next stop found me looking through a large raft of waterfowl trying to see how many different species could be found. Pintail, Goldeneye, Shelduck, Shoverler, Teal, Pochard, Red crested pochard, Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard plus over 300 Lapwing an impressive sight well over 2000 birds on the water.

A quick stop to look at one of the flooded fields produced 10 Little egrets.

Next a quick late visit to Blakehill farm which turned out to be well worth the time, with a single Short eared owl giving some close views and a distant Merlin sat on a fence post, also singles of Sparrowhawk and Peregrine with several flocks of Fieldfare, Redwing and Starling flying over.

Not a bad couple of hours on a gloomy January day. DT

WeBS-tactular day!

Darren and I have mentioned before about the voluntary conservation work we do, particularly surveys.  One that we both do is the national duck count  - Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS). This is a monthly count of all the waterfowl in the UK, volunteers each go to their count area on the same day and count all the waterfowl. We both count parts of the Cotswold Water Park and I count Cleveland Lakes. This is an area we sometimes go to on tours as there are a nice selection of waterbirds usually present.

I've been counting here for about a year, having done other areas in the past and its amazing how quickly you find it starts to become your 'patch'. You get a feel for what is good and bad, the first time you get a particular species that might be common at lots of other sites, but a good find at your site. I really do enjoy it greatly.

male lesser redpoll - feeding by the trackside


Its by no means an easy stroll around counting a few duck, this month I had to wear waders as the water was well above knee height. I could have taken a drier route, but the vast majority of the birds would have seen me coming and would have flushed! At one point my tripod had to double up as an ice-breaker as I was worried about slicing my waders open as the ice got thicker!

displaying male goldeneye


I soon arrived at the counting point and I was not disappointed, there were 1000's of duck of several different species. What a sight! Luckily I had remembered my tally counter that was soon put to good use counting over 2,000 wigeon, over a 1,000 teal, 250 shoveler, 250 gadwall, 650 coot and 100 pintail!

If you ever get the chance to help in surveys like WeBS, please consider it, the data is of massive value because everyone is counting at the same time, it gives a more accurate picture of the populations. Invaluable to help the UK's planners make informed decisions about future developments.

Can't wait for next month! (NA)